Investigating why people misuse computers and how to stop them

Why individuals commit computer misuse and the way in which they relate to the virtual world is to be raised by Stefan Fafinski, a Fellow of the British Computer Society, when he gives the Joseph Lister Lecture at the British Association for the Advancement of Science Festival of Science this year.

Why individuals commit computer misuse and the way in which they relate to the virtual world is to be raised by Stefan Fafinski, a Fellow of the British Computer Society, when he gives the Joseph Lister Lecture at the British Association for the Advancement of Science Festival of Science this year.

Fafinski has wide experience of communicating science to a non-specialist audience. Last year he was invited by the British Computer Society to speak at a Thought Leadership debate on the technological issues surrounding identity management. He is currently working on research into biometric technology and identity fraud and is developing a web-based learning tool.

The title of Fafinski’s talk will be “Computer says no: the social aspects of computer misuse”. It will provide an insight into the motivations that underlie computer misuse and explain the difficulties faced by the law. It will also consider alternative and complementary means of cyber regulation and the ways in which individuals and organisations could become more resilient to cyber attack.

Fafinski has researched the social motivations that lie behind the misuse of computers. Although such activities are thought of as computer crimes it is often the case that computer misuse will often fall outside of the criminal law. This situation has developed because certain forms of computer misuse which were first criminalised 16 years ago have now left the law behind due to the rapid pace of technological innovation.

Fafinski has examined the various ways in which computer misusers view the technological world and the reasons for those views. For instance, some consider the virtual environment as a playground for their own enjoyment, others as a soapbox for political expression.

There are a range of ways in which society could react to the ever-changing problem of computer misuse: from enacting or amending existing criminal law to a variety of means of informal regulation or social control.

Festival of Science

The British Association for the Advancement of Science, which organises the Festival of Science, aims to promote open discussion on issues involving science and encourages young scientists to explore the social aspects of their research. The association’s lectures have an audience ranging from school groups to scientists from a broad range of disciplines. The Festival of Science runs from 2-9 September at Norwich Research Park.

 

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